September 28, 2022

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Out of state man pleads guilty to possessing over 53 kilos of meth

13 min read
A 31-year-old Phoenix, Arizona, man has admitted he attempted to bring $242,325 worth of narcotics into the country via a Laredo-area port of entry

More from: March 8, 2022

  • DOD Software Acquisition: Status of and Challenges Related to Reform Efforts
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found The Department of Defense (DOD) increasingly relies on software to operate its weapon and business information technology (IT) systems. Yet, DOD has long faced challenges with software development. Over the past several years, DOD made efforts to modernize its software development approaches. For example: New software acquisition pathway. As GAO reported in June 2021, DOD created a new acquisition framework in January 2020 with six acquisition pathways, including one for software. The pathway emphasized modern software development practices, such as encouraging more frequent user feedback, as GAO recommended in March 2019. In June 2021, GAO reported that, while DOD had recently started implementing this pathway, the department did not have a data collection strategy for it. As a result, we recommended that DOD automate data collection efforts for the pathway. DOD concurred with the recommendation. Agile development. In February 2020, DOD issued an Agile Software Acquisition Guidebook that incorporates lessons learned from two pilot programs and emphasizes an iterative software development process. This process provides for rapid, frequent delivery of production-quality software. See figure. The Department of Defense’s Agile Development Process However, GAO’s recent work—including the June 2021 assessments of DOD’s weapon and business IT systems—shows that many programs have yet to implement certain recommended practices associated with modern software development approaches. For example, GAO’s Agile Assessment Guide emphasizes the early and continuous delivery of working software to users, and industry recommends delivery as frequently as every 2 weeks for Agile programs. Yet, as of June 2021, only six of 36 weapon programs that reported using Agile also reported delivering software to users in less than 3 months. DOD programs also reported a number of other challenges that could affect their ability to implement reforms. For example, over half of the weapon systems and nearly all major business IT programs GAO reviewed reported staffing challenges related to software development, such as difficulty hiring government and contractor staff. Why GAO Did This Study GAO reported in June 2021 that DOD planned to invest over $1.8 trillion to acquire its costliest new weapon systems. DOD is also investing billions more in IT systems and capabilities. The William M. (Mac) Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 included a provision for GAO to brief congressional defense committees on DOD’s implementation of software acquisition reforms for certain systems and activities. This report summarizes past GAO findings about the extent to which DOD implemented required or recommended software acquisition reforms for weapon and business systems. Other elements of the provision will be addressed in future work. For this report, GAO reviewed its June 2021 assessments of DOD weapon and major business IT systems, as well as other relevant prior work. GAO also identified software acquisition reforms initiated in response to recent statutory mandates. No new audit work was conducted for this report.

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  • Justice Department Resolves Lawsuit Alleging Disability-Based Discrimination by Developer and Owners of Eight Senior Living Complexes in Five States
    In Crime News
    The Justice Department announced that the developer and owners of eight senior living complexes in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee have agreed to pay $450,000 to settle claims that they violated the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by failing to build these properties with required accessible features for people with disabilities. As part of the settlement, the defendants agreed to make substantial retrofits to remove accessibility barriers at the complexes, including more than 1,500 units.

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  • VA Mental Health Care: Improvements Needed in Tracking and Overseeing Partnerships with Nongovernmental Entities
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found In an effort to reduce veteran suicides, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) tries to reach veterans through partnerships with nongovernmental entities using memorandums of agreement (agreements) focused on mental health and suicide prevention efforts. However, VA cannot readily track—that is, search for and identify—the full universe of its suicide prevention and mental health agreements. For example, it took officials from VA and its Veterans Health Administration (VHA) more than 4 months to identify for GAO 43 relevant agreements entered into across seven offices over a 5-year period. Number of Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Agreements with Nongovernmental Entities across Seven VA and VHA Offices (Oct. 2015 to Oct. 2020) GAO found that VA cannot readily track its agreements because VA policy does not require use of any single database to store agreement information. VA’s Strategic Relationships Application, which VA designed to document agreement information, could be used for tracking, but only four of the seven offices with such agreements used it. Requiring its use would facilitate VA’s ability to track all of its agreements and identify areas for improvement to better reach veterans not using its services. Individual VA and VHA offices conduct ongoing oversight of their own suicide prevention and mental health agreements, as required by VA policy. For example, officials monitor performance metrics such as the number of veterans served. VA policy also requires annual reviews that are used to determine if a partnership is still needed. However, GAO found that officials did not always document the completion of these annual reviews. VA’s policy requires that “significant activity” be documented, but it does not specify that annual reviews fall under that category, though officials managing the policy confirmed they do. Providing specificity on what VA wants documented as significant activity—e.g., by adding examples to the policy or providing specific guidance—would help ensure that annual reviews are being documented and maintained for future use. Why GAO Did This Study Many veterans struggle with mental health conditions, several of which are risk factors for suicide. VA reported that almost two-thirds of veterans that died by suicide in 2019 did not receive VHA services in 2018 or 2019. VA partners with a variety of entities, such as non-profits or academic institutions, through formal agreements aimed at expanding awareness of and access to suicide prevention activities and mental health services, in part to reach veterans not receiving VHA services. The Veterans’ Care Quality Transparency Act contained a provision for GAO to review VA’s agreements with non-VA entities that are related to suicide prevention activities and mental health services. This report examines (1) how VA tracks such agreements with nongovernmental entities across the department, and (2) how VA oversees individual agreements. GAO reviewed VA and VHA policies, the agreements VA and VHA identified, and related documentation for tracking and oversight. GAO also received demonstrations of two VA databases and interviewed VA and VHA officials and representatives from 14 selected entities that have agreements with VA or VHA with variation in type of entity and services provided.

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  • President of Commercial Flooring Company Pleads Guilty to Rigging Bids in Violation of Federal Antitrust Laws
    In Crime News
    Delmar E. Church Jr., the president and one of the principal owners of a Chicago-area commercial flooring company, pleaded guilty for his role in a conspiracy to rig bids and fix prices for commercial flooring services and products sold in the United States, the Department of Justice announced. The defendant is cooperating with the department’s ongoing investigation.

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  • Veterans Affairs: Systems Modernization, Cybersecurity, and IT Management Issues Need to Be Addressed
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has faced long-standing challenges in its efforts to deploy information technology (IT) initiatives in two critical areas needing modernization: the department’s aging health information system, known as the Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA); and VA’s outdated, non-integrated financial and acquisition management systems requiring complex manual work processes that have contributed to the department reporting financial management system functionality as a material weakness. Specifically, GAO has reported on the challenges that the department has faced with its three previous unsuccessful attempts to modernize VistA over the past 20 years. In February 2021, GAO reported that VA had made progress toward implementing its fourth effort—a modernized electronic health record system. However, GAO stressed that the department needed to address all critical severity test findings (that could result in system failure) and high severity test findings (that could result in system failure, but have acceptable workarounds) before deploying the system at future locations. In March 2021, GAO reported on the department’s Financial Management Business Transformation, a program intended to modernize financial and acquisition systems. GAO found that VA had generally adhered to best practices in the areas of program governance, project management, and testing. However, the department had not fully met best practices for developing and managing cost and schedule estimates. GAO recommended that VA follow such practices to help minimize the risks of cost overruns and schedule delays. GAO has also reported that VA has struggled to secure information systems and associated data; implement information security controls and mitigate known security deficiencies; establish key elements of a cybersecurity risk management program; and identify, assess, and mitigate the risks of information and communications technology supply chains. GAO has made numerous recommendations to VA to address these areas. Many of those recommendations have been addressed, but others have not been fully implemented. VA has demonstrated mixed results in implementing key provisions of the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (commonly referred to as FITARA). Specifically, VA has made substantial progress in improving its licensing of software, which led it to identify $65 million in cost savings. Further, it has made some progress in consolidating its data centers and achieving cost savings and avoidances. However, it has made limited progress in addressing requirements related to managing IT investment risk and enhancing the authority of its Chief Information Officer. Fully implementing the act’s provisions would position the department to deliver better service to our veterans through modern, secure technology. Why GAO Did This Study The use of IT is crucial to helping VA effectively serve the nation’s veterans. The department annually spends billions of dollars on its information systems and assets. Its fiscal year 2022 budget request is about $4.8 billion for its Office of Information and Technology and $2.7 billion for electronic health record modernization. GAO was asked to testify on its prior IT work at VA. Specifically, this testimony summarizes results and recommendations from GAO’s issued reports that examined VA’s efforts in (1) modernizing VistA and its financial and acquisition management systems; (2) addressing cybersecurity issues; and (3) implementing FITARA. GAO reviewed its recently issued reports that addressed IT and cybersecurity issues at VA and followed up on the department’s actions in response to recommendations.

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  • Elder Justice: HHS Could Do More to Encourage State Reporting on the Costs of Financial Exploitation
    In U.S GAO News
    Most state Adult Protective Services (APS) agencies have been providing data on reports of abuse to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), including data on financial exploitation, although some faced challenges collecting and submitting these data. Since states began providing data to HHS’s National Adult Maltreatment Reporting System (NAMRS) in 2017, they have been voluntarily submitting more detailed data on financial exploitation and perpetrators each year (see figure). However, some APS officials GAO interviewed in selected states said collecting data is difficult, in part, because victims are reluctant to implicate others, especially family members or other caregivers. APS officials also said submitting data to NAMRS was challenging initially because their data systems often did not align with NAMRS, and caseworkers may not have entered data in the system correctly. HHS has provided technical assistance and grant funding to help states address some of these challenges and help provide a better picture of the prevalence of the various types of financial exploitation and its perpetrators nationwide. Number of States That Provide Data on Financial Exploitation and Perpetrators to NAMRS Studies estimate some of the costs of financial exploitation to be in the billions, but comprehensive data on total costs do not exist and NAMRS does not currently collect cost data from APS agencies. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found actual losses and attempts at elder financial exploitation reported by financial institutions nationwide were $1.7 billion in 2017. Also, studies published from 2016 to 2020 from three states—New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia—estimated the costs of financial exploitation could be more than $1 billion in each state alone. HHS does not currently ask states to submit cost data from APS casefiles to NAMRS, though officials said they have begun to reevaluate NAMRS with state APS agencies and other interested parties, including researchers, and may consider asking states to submit cost data moving forward. Adding cost data to NAMRS could make a valuable contribution to the national picture of the cost of financial exploitation. Recognizing the importance of these data, some APS officials GAO interviewed said their states have developed new data fields or other tools to help caseworkers collect and track cost data more systematically. HHS officials said they plan to share this information with other states to make them aware of practices that could help them collect cost data, but they have not established a timeframe for doing so. Elder financial exploitation—the fraudulent or illegal use of an older adult’s funds or property—has far-reaching effects on victims and society. Understanding the scope of the problem has thus far been hindered by a lack of nationwide data. In 2013, HHS worked with states to create NAMRS, a voluntary system for collecting APS data on elder abuse, including financial exploitation. GAO was asked to study the extent to which NAMRS provides information on elder financial exploitation. This report examines (1) the status of HHS’s efforts to compile nationwide data through NAMRS on the extent of financial exploitation and the challenges involved, and (2) what is known about the costs of financial exploitation to victims and others. GAO analyzed NAMRS data from fiscal year 2016 through 2019 (the most recent available); reviewed relevant federal laws; and interviewed officials from HHS, other federal agencies, elder abuse prevention organizations, and researchers. GAO also reviewed APS documents and spoke with officials in eight states, selected based on their efforts to study, collect, and report cost data; and reviewed studies on financial exploitation. GAO recommends that HHS (1) work with state APS agencies to collect and submit cost data to NAMRS, and (2) develop a timeframe to share states’ tools to help collect cost data. HHS did not agree with the first recommendation, but GAO maintains that it is warranted, as discussed in the report. HHS agreed with the second recommendation. For more information, contact Kathryn A. Larin at (202) 512-7215 or larink@gao.gov.

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  • Priority Open Recommendations: Office of Management and Budget
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found In April 2020, GAO identified 35 priority recommendations for the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Since then, OMB has implemented four of those recommendations by, among other things, taking actions to help reduce improper payments across the federal government and improve the quality of agency spending data. In June 2021, GAO identified 13 additional priority recommendations for OMB, bringing the total number to 44. These recommendations involve the following areas: Improving government performance. Increasing availability and transparency of government data. Improving acquisition management and reducing costs. Reducing government-wide improper payments. Strengthening information security. Establishing controls for disaster relief. Improving oversight of agency collection and coordination of federal data on sexual violence. Improving federal real property asset management. Improving information management. OMB’s continued attention to these issues could yield significant cost savings and other improvements in government operations. Why GAO Did This Study Priority open recommendations are the GAO recommendations that warrant priority attention from heads of key departments or agencies because their implementation could save large amounts of money; improve congressional and/or executive branch decision-making on major issues; eliminate mismanagement, fraud, and abuse; or ensure that programs comply with laws and funds are legally spent, among other benefits. Since 2015 GAO has sent letters to selected agencies to highlight the importance of implementing such recommendations. For more information, contact Michelle Sager at (202) 512-6806 or sagerm@gao.gov.

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  • Agricultural Developer Agrees to Pay Clean Water Act Fines, Mitigate Impacts to Sensitive Streams and Wetlands
    In Crime News
    A California agricultural developer has agreed to pay a civil penalty, preserve streams and wetlands, effect mitigation, and be subject to a prohibitory injunction to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA) on property near the Sacramento River located in Tehama County, California, the Justice Department announced today.

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  • Insitu Inc. to Pay $25 Million to Settle False Claims Act Case Alleging Knowing Overcharges on Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Contracts
    In Crime News
    Insitu Inc., headquartered in Bingen, Washington, has agreed to pay $25 million to settle allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by knowingly submitting materially false cost and pricing data for contracts with the United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM) and the Department of the Navy (Navy) to supply and operate Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), the Department of Justice announced today.

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  • Superseding Indictment Charges New York Fisherman with Conspiracy, Fraud and Obstruction
    In Crime News
    A federal grand jury in the Eastern District of New York unsealed a superseding indictment charging a fisherman with both conspiracy and substantive charges in connection with a scheme to illegally overharvest fluke and black sea bass.

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